CEO of defunct Lake Oswego company indicted for fraud, money laundering
The long-running string of federal indictments related to the now-defunct Lake Oswego company Aequitas Management, LLC has finally reached the top, as U.S. Attorney Billy Williams announced Tuesday that former CEO Robert J. Jesnik and three other former executives were charged for their alleged roles in a fraud and money laundering conspiracy.
Jesnik, 61, is a former West Linn resident and faces a 32-count indictment for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. The three other men indicted Tuesday were 67-year-old Lake Oswego resident Nelson Scott Gillis, 54-year-old Portland resident Brian K. Rice and 56-year-old Andrew N. MacRitchie, formerly of Palm Harbor, Florida.
While Jesnik was the founder and chief executive officer at Aequitas, Gillis served as the chief operating officer and chief financial officer. MacRitchie served as executive vice president and chief compliance officer, and Rice was executive vice president as well as president of wealth management.
Back in May, Gillis was also indicted for conspiring to submit false statements to a federally insured creditor in order to secure a $4.2 million loan for Aequitas as it struggled to stay afloat in January 2016.
If convicted on all charges, the four men face "decades" in prison as well as millions of dollars in fines and restitution, according to Williams' office.
"From June 2014 through February 2016, the former executives solicited investors by misrepresenting the company's use of investor money, the financial health and strength of Aequitas and its related companies, and the risks associated with its investments and investment strategies," a press release from Williams' office read. "Collectively, the defendants also failed to disclose other critical facts about the company, including its near-constant liquidity and cash-flow crises, the use of investor money to repay other investors and to defray operating expenses, and the lack of collateral to secure funds."
In a settlement that was reached with investors in 2019, Aequitas companies were revealed to have been operating a Ponzi scheme dating back to 2010. That settlement, which resulted in $234.6 million being awarded to about 1,600 investors, was believed to be the largest settlement of a securities lawsuit in Oregon history.
Earlier in 2019, Brian Oliver, a former owner and executive vice president of Aequitas Management, LLC, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud and laundering; Olaf Janke, another former owner and chief financial officer at Aequitas, pleaded guilty in June 2019 to the same charges as Oliver.
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